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Sermon Illustrations: Criticism


A young girl went to her pastor and confessed that she feared she had committed the sin of vanity. "What makes you think that?" asked the minister. "Because every morning when I look into the mirror I think how beautiful I am." "Never fear, my girl," was the reassuring reply. "That isn't a sin, it's only a mistake."

Get a friend to tell you your faults, or better still, welcome an enemy who will watch you keenly and sting you savagely. What a blessing such an irritating critic will be to a wise man, what an intolerable nuisance to a fool.1

Criticism is like working for the wrong team: A young city man was visiting relatives on their outback property for the first time. When he arrived, it was a particularly busy time for the farmer. Not wanting to be inhospitable, his uncle said, "Look, we're flat out right now, but why don't you borrow my shotgun and take the dogs out for a bit of shooting." When his nephew returned a couple of hours later, the farmer asked him, "How was the shooting?" "That was amazing," said the young man. "Got any more dogs?"

In one church, people were complaining about the sound levels and they discovered that the problem was with the sound bouncing off the wall at the back of the stage. So they put a curtain up, but in doing so they obscured the cross. People complained about covering the cross, so they tucked the curtains behind. Some time later, someone donated a beautiful pulpit in the shape of a cross. Then the people complained, "They're getting all popey. Crosses everywhere."

Rev. Henry Ward Beecher entered Plymouth Church one Sunday to preach, and as the great orator placed his Bible on the pulpit he noticed a blank sheet of paper with the word "fool" written on it. Having a great sense of humour, he lifted the paper for all to see. Then his booming voice filled the church as he announced, "I have known many an instance of a man writing a letter and forgetting to sign his name, but this is the only instance I have ever known of a man signing his name and forgetting to write the letter."

My Collection of Jokes, Quotes & Anecdotes

Abraham Lincoln understood what it was like to face criticism. He is quoted as saying, "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end."

A young man was visiting his parents during the university holidays. When his father discovered that he had only just scraped a pass in one of his core subjects, he commented, "That's not very good, is it?" The young man replied, "Dad, I learned something really important in my communication studies. If you have something negative to say, you should use what's called the 'feedback sandwich". "And what's that?" asked his father. "First, you say something positive, then the negative comment, then finish with another positive comment. Do you understand what I mean?" "Yeah, I think so," said the father. "How's this for size? I love you. Put a sock in it. I love you."

Mary was well-known as a critical person. One day, she was asked what she thought of Sue, a woman she barely knew. "I don't like her," she commented. "She keeps changing her mind. Every time I ask her the time, she gives me a different answer."


If there was any real power in criticism, the skunk would have been extinct years ago. Mark Twain.

The only reason they put you up front, is so they can see clearly enough to shoot at you. Paul Newsham

Pewmonia - where they sit in the pews and moan.

The best soccer players in the world aren't shooting goals in the World Cup. They are up in the stalls yelling, "Hey, you should have..."

1 Spurgeon, Charles H. My Sermon Notes Vol. 4, p. 331

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